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  • Writer's pictureRob Icsezen

Ep. 19 Maya Ford - The Standard of Love

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Maya Ford 0:03

***radio effect on voice*** The standard of love tells you love yourself, do you really mean it, validate that through articulating it through your values and living it. Do not support economic components that oppress, suppress or in enslave others. That's inclusive of a lot of dynamics that make you uncomfortable. And then we will earn the right and continue to pave the way for other persons to earn that space, to be heard and to tell their own stories.

Robert Icsezen 0:39

What's up Houston! Welcome to H-Town Progressive, Houston's impenetrable fortress of progressive thought! I'm your host, Rob Icsezen. We've talked a lot on this show about getting involved. ***introduction music fades out*** The mantra that "democracy doesn't begin and end on election day" has always been followed with, "all right, what now?" and we've had a number of great Houston progressive answer that question for us. As we all know, there's always something for you to do in the public sphere. In fact, we just wrapped up a special show on the road in Austin, which we'll be bringing to you next week. So you can see the process of advocacy in action. But one thing we haven't done is talk about how to communicate our message effectively. Now, I'm a lawyer, so I think I can fairly say that my training and years of experience have taught me how to advocate effectively. But all too often when we advocate, we really fail to communicate. And although lawyers are probably the worst offenders, I know I'm one, I'm not just talking about lawyers here. So I'm going to cut my comments short this time. It's time for me to listen. And today, our guest is a person who has not only thought deeply about this very subject, she's developed a method that we can all employ. Maya Ford is a first generation American of Afro Latino descent. She's the owner of Ford Momentum, a strategic communications firm focused on cultural inclusion, a 20 plus year veteran of strategic marketing and mass communications, and current graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studying economics with a focus on global poverty, Maya is passionate about results oriented work that supports equity and innovation. It's my honor to welcome to the show today, the founder of the Standard of Love, Maya Ford! Maya, welcome to H-Town Progressive!

Music 0:39

***Introduction Music***

Maya Ford 2:33

Thank you!

Robert Icsezen 2:34

It's awesome to have you on the show today. You've done something quite spectacular, which is, which is form / develop a way of communication that I think really is kind of breakthrough. But the way I've introduced this whole idea is that it's kind of a distinction between advocacy and communication. Take that, and then walk us through into the Standard of Love what that what your idea is...

Maya Ford 3:02

I founded the premise really upon being someone who loves people. So I'm a very emotional person, I'm very feeling. And oftentimes when I think about issues for persons that have been oppressed, suppressed or enslaved, I have a lot of emotional sentiment that's connected with that. And it causes me sometimes feelings of my own trauma that I may or may not have ever lived. So we can say, concepts of empathy, and people who are highly feeling and sometimes my feelings are not necessarily true. So when I start to look at how do I articulate and how do I confirm that my feelings are actually valid, is there truth, truth sometimes cannot be had? But oftentimes, we find that it can. And when I would go back to identify and do a little bit more homework, like, why am I feeling this way? Or is that what really happened, then I had a difficult time figuring out how to articulate that properly to move towards solutions. Anyone who is looking to advocate or to help folks along the way to create some type of solution, we want answers, we want the thing that we don't like to be fixed. And we want a solution that is positive and makes us feel good. So it's easier when you're able to do that in a clarified way. Standard of Love gives us a framework to be able to go before we are working towards the solution to have all of the building blocks lined up so that we can kind of create this equation that gets us to solutions faster.

Robert Icsezen 4:44

Okay. I like that that framework, because in the world of advocacy, you have basically arguments that are made, you have a series of premises that lead to a conclusion. But if you can't get the person who you're trying to, or group or organization or government or whatever it might be, to, to follow your premises, they won't buy your conclusion, and you won't be able to successfully advocate. And so communicating is kind of the necessary precondition, I think, to to helping people understand your premises, so they can then ultimately get to your conclusion. So how do we start this process? What's step one, in the Standard of Love for communications,

Maya Ford 5:27

The first step is to recognize that humans are inherently emotional. And that's all of us. And it's a very good thing. We use those emotions for survival, we use them to care for one another, we use them to be inspired. And sometimes we use them to caution us or to tell us like, hey, warning, warning, you're under a threat. So the first thing is to recognize that, that we each have this, these components within ourselves that give us the capacity to survive. What we want to do you is to not just survive, but we also want to thrive. So the first thing that Standard of Love helps us to do is to ask, is it human? Are we talking about human feelings? Are we talking about something that may have been made up like AI? Right, so artificial intelligence, the Standard of Love then moves into asking folks, is this something that we have seen before that is progressive? Or is it something that is regressive? So is that which you're feeling, helping you to move things forward? Do you want to make it move forward? Or do you want to keep it in the same place? Or do you want to make it go backwards? So we ask, what are your values? What do you really believe in? Are your values something that oppress, suppress, or potentially enslave someone else? We then move into the quadrant of being able to seek solutions. So that's the space where you're asking for information. And that's where literacy comes into play. Literacy is about, it's very complex, there's all types of literacy, there's digital literacy, there's actually, like reading, so it's called text to text, text to self, and then text to world. So text to text would be reading a book, and comprehending and collecting vocabulary, you're also collecting concepts when you're reading, okay? There's text to self. So there's this idea that you're able to read that and see yourself in it, and how you relate in conjunction with the text on the paper. And then there's text to world: where do I sit in this big picture? So I liken it to knowing where you sit in nature, as a human, you're pretty big compared to an ant. But you're really small compared to the universe, right? So you have to know where you sit, and how you can make effect

Robert Icsezen 7:52

A kind of self awareness.

Maya Ford 7:54

Exactly. And literacy helps to inspire that. It is one of the spaces still that we've seen beyond any technology that creates a bumpy brain. So it still allows...

Robert Icsezen 8:07

A bumpy brain?

Maya Ford 8:08

A bumpy brain means that there's extra connections happening in your brain, you want a bumpy brain! Yeah, smooth brain means that those neuro connectors are dying, that's not healthy.

Robert Icsezen 8:20

You know, I love it when scientists can translate things in such a nice way, like yourself, like you just did.

Maya Ford 8:25

I love it. It's a lot of fun, to explore, and to learn how we work as humans and the things that help us to move things along. So literacy has still been the one according to history, period, the one thing that people, humans can do, to improve their bumpy brains and figure out other ways to have language, to articulate themselves, and to understand context. So you have to know where you sit. And it's a brilliant thing also, because libraries are free. In the United States, we have amazing libraries, in Houston, we have amazing libraries, they're free, they're accessible, all the books you want. So literacy is really vital to making sure that people are able to articulate themselves and find solutions. And a brilliant issue came up recently with the New Leaders Council, which we hadn't explored, which was persons that are able bodied, without any issues, being able to read, we hadn't really talked about persons who may be blind, or persons who may have, you know, learning differences. So I think that this process is still very new. And it gives us a lot of space to improve. But having dialogue and articulating values, and asking people using questions to even start the framework was valuable.

Robert Icsezen 9:48

So that's a great example. And I think that one thing, we just got off a day at the Capitol advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights in Austin. And so maybe you we could walk through what it looks like to employ this process in in the in that kind of advocate using that as an example of advocacy. You know, we were in Austin, talking about some of the bad bills that are out there. For example, one of the bills, says that, one of the bad bills that is, is going to require, would, if it were passed, hopefully won't get passed, but it would require anyone who gets a license as a professional of any kind in the state of Texas, it would require, it would say that they cannot be prevented from getting that license, by virtue of the fact that they choose not to serve people on the basis of religious convictions. That's just a fancy way of saying they can refuse to serve trans people if they want. And this goes for doctors, lawyers, all kinds of professionals. Anyone who gets a license as a professional in the state of Texas. This is bonkers! This horrible. It's framed in this kind of innocuous and not so thinly veiled language, but we all know what it is. Hopefully it won't pass and we're out there talking to folks to tell them why it's bad. How might the Standard of Love inform that communication?

Maya Ford 11:19

This is a robust question because complexity is the New Black. There's no simple solution for, there's no one line sentence, gone are the days of the three second blurb that you can put in a ticker at the bottom of your mass communications. We must be able to identify and be robust and holistic in our approach at how we treat people, period. The Standard of Love asks people to articulate what it is that they want, with the expectation that someone else provide that, or want to, and if they don't, don't work with them. What governments have to recognize is that service to others is not about you. It is about others. When we have these types of conversations, my blood boils, I am fundamentally at my core, not only offended, I am frustrated at the lack of literacy. Because people don't understand that the government is not here to provide our needs, in the sense that, like, they're not here to like take care of us, they're here work for us. So if any way, in any way, you as the government, whom i pay to protect me are not working for me, you're fucking fired. The Standard of Love says that that standard is too low. You don't get to be exclusionary, of any component of my existence, because my existence is period, punto, period, full stop. So when we talk about these, these issues, the first way is to do the homework, person's literacy and your ability and capacity to articulate is your responsibility. It's not someone else's responsibility. So we first have to be able to use the tools and find the tools to do that. Literacy is the easiest, there are many, but literacy is the easiest. Then we have to articulate what our values are. I value human life, I value the existence of basics, clean water in Houston, equal opportunity, the capacity to be able to walk and have a sustainable community without persons being killed. We live in a really dangerous city. I value the ability to love who you want to love according to your natural design, without having to explain it. I shouldn't have to explain my sexuality to somebody. It's not your business. Right. I've asked you the capacity to use all of my greatest strengths, and my dreams to support my community for a sustainable livelihood. So there are different values that each of us carry, some of mine might line up with yours and that's where we align, some of them might not, and that's where we have to make the decision and say, it's okay for me not to work with you on this. Right, but we have to set the boundary.

Robert Icsezen 14:22

And one of one of the things that we are confronted with, unfortunately, is that when you talk about values not always coinciding, we can work together, but one of the values you sometimes find on the other side, unfortunately, is the value that your very identity, your very existence goes sideways of my values. And this is found in the context very vividly like with trans people. Yes. I mean, there are plenty of people in the Texas Senate who have never met even a gay person, much less a trans person, or any other person with any kind of gender fluidity that isn't binary that isn't man or woman as as these people see it. And they just dehumanize folks who are, you know, just among us, and it's, it's horrible. And so how do you? How do you communicate? This is one of the things I've been banging my head against the wall. But I wish they that that I could just go into like Kolkhorst's office or something with some of the great trans people we have in our community and say, look, these are real people. These are wonderful people, get to know them. But that's not gonna happen.

Maya Ford 15:34

Well, and I think it's twofold. Like, you don't want to force people to get to know or to do things that they don't want to do. So Fine. You don't want to know me as a black, you don't want to know me as someone who's trans gender, you don't want to know me as a male or female. That's your prerogative you miss out. When we're talking about government and public infrastructure, we have some baselines, those baselines are talking about safety for all citizens, the capacity to survive and thrive, right. And ultimately, when we're looking at it from an economic perspective, you want your, your state or the persons that you're representing to be able to compete economically. So suppressing and oppressing persons that don't fit into like this neat square is not only just blatantly ignorant, but it's bad for business. So we can look at this emotionally. And we can say, "yeah, I don't agree with you, and I don't agree with this sweater that you're wearing, or how you choose to live your existence." Fine. You don't have to agree with me. But in the same space, you don't get the right, in any way, whether legal, emotionally, spiritually, to harm me, because I exist, regardless of whether or not you think that. So when the government is out of bounds, which is what we're seeing right now, the Standard of Love helps citizens to own and affirm their space to say "whoa whoa whoa!" stop the bus, you are out of bounds don't step in my territory, you don't want none of this. But you have to go through this process to be able to articulate that, to be able to know what your values are, and then when you're able to do that, so I said it, and I know it. Now I have to protect it. And I have to ask other people to protect it with me. That builds self esteem. So when I say it, and I'm like, wow, I bucked up I told them, "Oh, hell, no" man, they really backed up. Most bullies don't do anything as we know the...

Robert Icsezen 17:29


Maya Ford 17:30

it's intimidation! it's a lot of fear. And we we know, throughout history and warfare, that fear works, right. So it causes you to do a lot of things that are irrational, that's where I was explaining, like are feelings true. Try not to work, we want to use our feelings, the intuitive nature to guide us to say, I call it sniffing for myself, like, like, I sniff it, I'm like **sniffs** something doesn't feel right. I sniff it. But it's different for everyone. People need to articulate what that looks like. But once I do, then I move into like defining whether or not it's true. So that's the space, everything I feel is not true. And when we can calm down in that, it helps me to make more rational decisions that are based on components that help us to like to go and say, "Ah, ok, I do feel this way. I do value this. And actually, the person that I don't agree with is doing this. Now, let me find the methodology." When you go through that, and you're successful. And you're repeating that. It's brilliant, because you you have enhanced self esteem.

Robert Icsezen 18:37

I think that self awareness is key. I mean, if we all just did that first, I think that would eradicate much...

Maya Ford 18:45

it helps. The Standard of Love is not a "be all." It's communications, it's about being able to, to have the best self expression in in perpetuity consistently, so that someone can come and know what they're dealing with. It's it's dynamic. It's always changing. It's always growing, because we're always changing. We're always growing.

Robert Icsezen 19:07

So yeah, let me ask you this then, because I think this is a nice segue into this conversation, because you know, we talked a lot about the opposition that is, that really has a wall up - walls, they're in the news a lot these days - But then being introspective among allies. I think, and I like to quote, Brandon Mack as much as I can, "if you're comfortable. You're not doing it right." Is kind of a paraphrase of what Brandon has said before. And what that means is that you've got to constantly challenge yourself as an ally as an accomplice of whatever group we're talking about. And so to use an example then, the language we use really matters. And there's some controversy because there are folks who would vote the same way, you know, who call themselves progressives who probably are progressive. But when we talk, for example, of stating explicitly what your pronouns are, you get a lot of eyes rolling when you do that, and certainly people on the right, but even in people on the left, say why are we doing this? They don't understand why it's important to express your chosen pronoun. And how that is so important. And so easy, really, but it's but it's, it's, it's a, it's, I think it's an example that we should use to highlight here,

Maya Ford 20:29

I get goosebumps about this conversation, because admittedly, I have been someone who at times, finds myself being overwhelmed by it. And I love it, because I have to watch my own ego. I love change, I adapt to change very well, I'm someone who goes after change. And I am even having a difficult time with this type of change in the language. And really, what I liken it to is the advanced dynamics of where we sit in what's called the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has done this, this long study, it started, I believe, in 2014, or 2015, about what's called the fourth industrial revolution. So that's where we sit today, in the first kind of two decades of the 21st century. And it's different than anything we've ever seen before, because for the first time, you've got humans actually integrating with technology. So that radically changes anything that we've seen in any generation before, we've always worked alongside with tech. That's important, because we are doing this good work as progressives, as people who are changing, but for the first time, the change is forcing us to change at a rate we don't understand. So when we're talking about these concepts of how progressives are just punching the shit in the face, it's the dumbest thing ever! You have to get out of it, though, to see it. So the issue is that we're changing language. So they're like, "oh, you're going to continue to oppress me based on my gender? Fuck your gender! I claim nothing! Or, you want a gender? I'm creating some new ones, and if you don't work with me in this, I'm not working with you!" That's a Standard of Love.

Robert Icsezen 22:15


Maya Ford 22:16

Right! It's brilliant. And so for me, as someone who is black, female, Latino, a mother, a woman, like all of these things, I declared that, and that's where I have gained my own Standard of Love. It's really hard for me to potentially disconnect all of my femininity, like "I am woman!" And see that that might hold a shift in power. Right. So like, I also was potentially threatened in like, "What do you mean, you're challenging, my divine right as my in my femininity? Like, don't you see?" No, it forces me to, to ask more questions to become more literate. It forces me to re-identify what my own Standard of Love is relative to my peers and my colleagues, my friends, my neighbors. Humans who I say I love. Do you? I really love them. If I'm saying I love people, do I love people, no matter what we call ourselves? And do I love people enough to call them according to what they want to be called, however divinely they feel in it? I have to make the decision and challenge myself. Yes. So it's a tricky thing, right!?! Yeah. It's challenging all of us to come to the table and to reintegrate new language, new communications, to challenge and to look at ourselves and say, "is what I feel true and why?" So literacy. And it's, it's also elevating my self esteem, because today, two years later, I can still say, I'm still struggling with it, I still have to ask, but I don't have the trauma associated with "Oh, my gosh, they're trying, you know, why do I have to" I can't think of an exact exact example of when I might have said like, "Why do I have to call you? Why do I care? If it's he she or are they?" But I've had that at conferences at persons who I claim to love. So I've had to check myself.

Robert Icsezen 24:13

So you know, this is one of those times when I wish this podcast had a video feature, because you're communicating right now, so much with your face. You're doing this with a huge smile on your face and a lot of animation. And I think that that's a huge part of this. I mean, because you hear a lot of these discussions, and they're nasty. They're like, "why the fuck do I have to call you they? You're not a they! That's grammatically incorrect! Blah blah blah" You know, you hear this kind of nasty tone from people who might call themselves allies. But what we're getting here is like real bear honesty. Like, it was hard for me. Like, seriously, it was hard for me. But it's like with this, this sense of love, which is why you call it Standard of Love!

Maya Ford 24:53

Love, is compassion. Love is understanding where we sit in nature. Love is understanding for me that there's no perfection. I don't even like perfection. Perfection means you're ready to die. It means that we're culminating, so many other things we're transitioning, and that transition can look like a lot of things. That's our creativity. That's the feeling in it. Read that right? It's the space where you're like, I feel something different, why can't I express it? That's the Standard of Love. So it really is and love is different to different people. We have all kinds of books, "Five Love Languages," "How Do You Like to be Loved?" You know, for me, it's acts of service. I'm a doer. For me, it's about communicating. I like action. I am a servant leader. I don't always need, like, you to touch me or the touchy feely, but for other people, that's what it's... I'm... we're parents, right? We know that you've got the one kid who just needs to sit in your lap 24/7?

Robert Icsezen 25:48

My goodness, yes! Gosh, I was just having a conversation...

Maya Ford 25:51

I nursed you for two years, can I get a breath!?! You know, and then we have the other kid who's totally independent that needs you to text and be like, "I got you, kid. You got this!" We're different, it's OK! It's OK! So this space, according to what Brandon is saying, is so dynamic. Because one thing I love is that the community as allies are sticking together. We have said, our standard is to love each other in this space, and redefine our own language. And we are mandating that you do it. And if you don't, get the fuck out of here, we're not working with you, we're not supporting you, and that banding together creates very high self esteem. Fundamentally, what we want to see Standard of Love equate to is not only the emotional connection, but also to say, we deserve to have good lives in Houston, but not on the backs of other people suffering. This fundamentally in the United States is based on economics. So there's the emotional sentiments, but there's the math and the science as well. Standard of Love gives us that bridge to be able to articulate and calculate all of it, so that we can then come to the space full and ready to work.

Robert Icsezen 27:05

You know, that reminds me you bring it to Houston, reminds me of a program we did recently with Iris Gonzalez about equity and flood control. That's a big thing these days about, we've got all these flood projects that we approved, and now we're trying to allocate them. And we've, we've changed the prioritization on the basis of something called equity. Which is a word that essentially describes human need. And a lot of people are upset about that, because in some instances, it will prioritize some projects where that equity has said, well, human need trumps - I hate using that word these days - but will trump economic value, let's say, price per square foot, essentially, you know, the value the market puts on property. And so what we're saying is well actually the property value, whatever it might be, in this particular instance, is outweighed by the human trauma. And that's something that's very difficult for a lot of people, mostly on the other side, to understand. It seems to me what you're saying right now can really translate into that discussion.

Maya Ford 28:11

That's my goal. The goal is, so I find value and equity, for my record is one of my values. Because the way that the United States economic system is framed is on the backs of slave labor.

Robert Icsezen 28:28

Yeah. We should never forget that, but we try to whitewash that. Always.

Maya Ford 28:34

It's not easy. Yeah. Yes, we can never forget. It's also the framework of everything we do today. And when I say everything, I mean, everything. Even historically black colleges and universities are accredited by the white supremacist framework. So like, there's no escaping it in the United States. The reason the only way that you can eliminate that is to break it. And this is the space where people have a lot of fear. But persons who have historically been oppressed, suppressed or enslaved have a lot of power. The Standard of Love helps us to be able to move towards kind of repairing that, because then when you see your power, you stop accepting anything.

Robert Icsezen 29:19

Let's talk about power. I like that. Because this is something that progressive often, or at least historically, from the opposition, they've referred to us is like snowflakes. I've started to employ the word "snowflake conservative," because I actually think that they're the ones who are weak in a lot of ways. But talk to me about power, because I think power, as progressives, we have a lot of power, a lot of power. And one of our tasks is to learn how to use it and discover it.

Maya Ford 29:53

My definition of power is probably not in alignment with any politics. This is complex for me. So I'm trying to simplify it and to not go on a different tangent, fundamentally, I was born and raised, understanding that my existence was powerful. And it was mine to own and it was mine to wield and mind to be responsible for, no one else's. So oftentimes, I don't relate to the same concept of like power with regards to someone having control or being able to manipulate or like have causation of things that I do. I own me. Now, that being said, I also grew up very safe as a first generation kid, I didn't have I don't have the same types of trauma physically, or the traumatic memories of physical abuse, things that, that persons who tend to lean in the progressive party, really champion and have a lot of experience with, humans have experienced with. So I rely more on this is a space when we talk about power, that I tend to be a little bit more quiet, because I recognize that my power is inherent. And it's also incredibly privileged. Yeah. That being said...

Robert Icsezen 31:13

recognizing privileges a huge part of all this...

Maya Ford 31:16

Oh, man! And it's funny how we talk about, like, what that looks like. So I wasn't privileged with money, because that wasn't something that was deemed as powerful in my upbringing. But I'm a dual national citizen, right. So like, if I don't like it in the US, I can leave. I see that is very freeing. Very powerful. If you know, I have multiple safe places to sleep. These are concepts. I know how to grow my own food. I know how to sew my own clothing. I know how to do a lot of things that that allow me to be self reliant. So I see power as consistently something about my individual capacity to be able to survive and drive It's different. So autonomy is power for me. Now, in the space of the progressive, absolutely there's the power! Because anytime you have chaos, chaos is a very natural thing, chaos, when my favorite example is when men complain about women, right? Going into like some straight patriarchal shit. So men are like, "I just want a simple lady," I say, the guys I come across, in dating, let's say, "I just want a simple lady. I'm a simple guy. I just want her to be no drama," and whatever. And I laugh! And I say, if you have a woman who is, you know, who's okay with your simplicity. And that way, he's not trying to continue to grow, or isn't creative, then she's allowing you to die. So she don't love you, brother, she waitin' for you to go bye, bye!

Robert Icsezen 32:48


Maya Ford 32:48

So it's part of that the progressives are highly creative. And they're speaking the seeking within them is speaking. So that's the space where you have a lot of power, because anytime you have all of this creation, and the ability to disrupt, to break the shit wide open, you can go and run the gamut. One thing I suggest, my father had all of us read "The Art of War," and we had to memorize it in the ninth grade, right?

Robert Icsezen 33:13

Whoa! that's intense!

Maya Ford 33:14

But it's brilliant, because it's a great treatise, in terms of, the premise is to get your way without ever having to fight. And so it's really about being proactive and owning your power and knowing where it sits. So again, it's complex, the progressive movement is that, and we see it happening, in all kinds of ways, and Houston is so responsive to progressives, which I really enjoy. Our communications about it is different, and we see through the data that some of the racial, like the ethnic alignment is still different. The premise, though, that we should be moving towards nature and the enhancement of our natural capacities as humans, over a white supremacist economic baseline of money, then tells us that we do have a lot of power. And that's that space where the alignment of that will help us to go faster. So that's what Standard of Love does, it helps us to align that. But you're dead on white supremacy tells us that economics rule over everything else. And that is specifically a United States cultural currency. But it is not the currency that other cultures possess, or use to survive and thrive.

Robert Icsezen 34:25

Yeah, I mean, you talk about things in the way we talk about it and other countries like...

Maya Ford 34:30

Oh, yeah...

Robert Icsezen 34:30

and they're kind of like, that's, that's, that's weird! You know, you go into a Scandinavian country, and you start, if you went to Scandinavian country, and show them how we prioritize flood control projects, and that it's now a controversy, that equity is something that we want to employee in prioritization, they'd be like, "what!?! This is bonkers? What do you people doing?"

Maya Ford 34:49

Yep, it's the, that's the space where literacy can do the most. My dad used to tell me - clearly my my Baba is a huge influencer in my life - and he used to say, if you want to travel, read. You know, like, you can find things, books, other literature explains the way people live. In the United States, we act like were soooooo freakin' original!!!

Robert Icsezen 35:12

The greatest in the world!

Maya Ford 35:13

We're not even that original! You know, like, if you're here, everybody had a mama, everybody had a daddy, if you're human! Right? So like humanity has been surviving now for over 8 billion years. I think like some folks are getting it right in other spaces. And so we can learn how we adapt to our own power. What we must recognize is that our entire infrastructure for people who are black and brown, or indigenous in the United States, I have to really encourage us, that trauma is a real thing. Slavery, genocide of indigenous persons... I just got back from Europe and in Europe, you have in Italy, in Rome, you have centuries, right, millennia of infrastructure, and the United States, where do we go for our totems? The indigenous populations were completely demolished. We don't celebrate these things. And so when we talk about 200 years of that, that's no time we just got here! We just for black Americans, you just got here 60 years. It's okay! Right? Give yourselves a hug. It's okay. We have to breathe. We deserve a moment to to be creative. We deserve love, it's okay,

Robert Icsezen 36:34

So I just got back from a trip, kind of a tour of the South with my family. So we were in Charleston, South Carolina. We were in Birmingham, Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama, Selma, Jackson, Mississippi went to civil rights museums, we went to the National Memorial for Equality and Justice in Montgomery, which is otherwise now known as the Lynching Museum. Lynching Memorial, and the history, you go through these places, and you realize how much we don't talk about the foundation that created what we have today. And I like how you started this conversation, and we're now kind of ending the conversation with this, but it's, it is, I strongly encourage people, everybody, I mean, the trauma of today's descendants of enslaved people, I can understand so much more vividly now. And I would encourage anyone, regardless of whether or not you are a descendant of an enslaved person, or if you are a new American, like, I am like you are, although I don't know if you are a descendant of an enslaved person, I don't want to make that assumption about you. But it is something that changes your perspective, I think. You know, it really is, you go to this, this, the Lynching Museum, err Memorial, and you see the names, like they have these these hanging sort of pieces of metal representing every county in the in the country, not just the South, every county that had lynchings and the dates. And those are only the ones we know about - for every name that we have there, there are 20 that we don't have, or more. And it's not that long ago! Especially in the context of human history, as you've raised. We're not talking about the Roman Empire here! We're not talking about the Inquisition! We're talking about people's relatives today could have a memory of them. My dad's older, he you know, he was born in the 20s, and people were being lynched in the 20s in this country. And and that's something that we we don't talk about enough.

Maya Ford 38:55

Trauma is real. Humans have a history of being incredibly violent towards each other. We also have a history of being incredibly nurturing. I think it is our responsibility as persons who are literate, as persons who are trying to try to create and use our creativity, to not only remember and to articulate what we don't want to do from history, but to dream so big, that we give our children a space to feel like, it's not so scary. I carry a lot of passion - as you can see - about all of these things in their complexity. The South is a really sad place for me, because we, it's hard to be human, and to grow into change and survive. Like that's a basic for everybody. It's particularly disparaging to have someone try to wipe you off, and to ignore just basics of what they did. And fundamentally, the structure of the United States is that. It consistently tells us as persons of color in the Americas, not just in the United States.

Robert Icsezen 40:19

That's absolutely right.

Maya Ford 40:20

Okay, that indigenous persons who were here who did not commoditize land, right, they, you couldn't buy land. You were, how can you own what you never created!?! Right? So like, we came here, we, we trick them, and then you bring other people and you and you make it... it's consistently on the backs of slave labor, then you make millions, billions, your whole future you set up hundreds of years ahead of the game, for that! And now here we are, like our little woke conscious selves, right! Our privileged woke conscious selves, because we did make it through hurricanes, we survived. We did, we did not get swept away and washed away. Like, we were resilient. We still have clean water, we still have internet. We're still here on a week day, in the morning, not slaving, having these conversations. We have intellectual capacity. We're highly privileged.

Robert Icsezen 41:14

We're not, we're not out in the fields.

Maya Ford 41:16

We're not anywhere close to that! And so here we are awakening in our power, in our capacity to, to describe the power. And the responsibility is on us to protect the people to tell their stories, right. Yes, you deserve to be heard. And you deserve for our children to have the ability to articulate that for future. So we will never go back. Jewish communities do this very well. Very well. I say we will never forget it anytime. And Jewish communities are very sensitive. Anytime you go there. They jump on you! If it's meant are not meant doesn't matter. The premise is that they have a history. They did that very well. In the United States and Houston, we must tell our story. We must not support or allow revisionist history. And that's not the revisionists problem. It's ours. It's ours to defend. And and it's so vital to do that, because the Standard of Love tells you love yourself, do you really mean it? validate that through articulating it through your values and living it, do not support economic components that oppress, suppress or enslave others. That's inclusive of a lot of dynamics that make you uncomfortable, right. So you might have to do something to support your, the people that you say that you love, you got to check yourself. And then we deserve and then we will earn the right and continue to pave the way for other persons to earn that space, to be heard and to tell their own stories. Otherwise, we as progressives are perpetuating the same thing in a different era. We have to break it, though. We have to break it and we have to stop fearing breaking it. And, and, in a lot of ways, sounds a little bit like martyrdom. But you got to be willing to be like, I'm playing my part, whether I live or die. And I'm not saying be a radical in that sense. But you have to let go of that space of fear. Right. So I'm playing my part. And when you play your part, I play my part. We get it together.

Robert Icsezen 43:22

Yeah. Wow. That was that was fantastic. I think that's a perfect way to end this conversation. Thank you very much.

Maya Ford 43:30

I'm very proud of you, thank you!

Robert Icsezen 43:32

Thank you. I think that this is such an important tool for people to employ. And I hope they will.

Maya Ford 43:37

Yes, me too.

Robert Icsezen 43:38

Alright, thanks, Maya.

Maya Ford 43:39

Thank you.

Robert Icsezen 43:40

Next week, we're going to be talking to Nisha Randle, Communications Director for the Harris County Democratic Party and Vice President of Indivisible Houston, about what being a battleground state really means and how Harris County plays into that. And also, as I mentioned in the opening comments of this show, this week, we went to Austin with a group of activists led by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, where we broke from our standard format and recorded a series of interviews with both activists and electeds. We plan to have that special episode available soon.

Music 44:15

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Robert Icsezen 44:15

So if this discussion maybe think motivated you, or hell even made you angry! Hit that subscribe button at or wherever you get your podcasts and don't forget to tell all your friends about us! Also, we would really love to hear from you. If you have a comment topic idea a guest suggestion. Email me at or, we have that new phone number, don't forget! Call us and leave a message with your comments at 281-915-9561, again, that's 281-915-9561 and we will put your message on the show! Thanks for listening, I'm Rob Icsezen, and this is H-Town Progressive!!!!

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